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Pedestrian deaths greater than for drivers

In Austin, pedestrians are dying in city traffic at a higher rate than motor vehicle drivers this year, accounting for more than 40% of the 71 traffic deaths, according to Austin police.

By the end of August, police had responded to 29 crashes with pedestrians that resulted in death, with five of those fatalities occurring in August.

Jiaxing Chen and Edith Tavera-Camacho

In the case of one pedestrian death on August 9th, authorities responded to the 12500 block of the Interstate 35 North service road near Parmer Lane in North Austin after receiving a report of a crash.

Investigators learned that 25-year-old Edith Tavera-Camacho had been driving north when she struck Jiaxing Chen, 35, who was walking. Authorities say Chen attempted to call 911 operators to report the crash, but Tavera-Camacho kept driving with Chen still on the hood of the vehicle.

Tavera-Camacho eventually crashed into a concrete curb at the Parmer Lane intersection, according to police. Chen was taken to a hospital, where he died Aug. 19. Tavera-Camacho was arrested on charges of intoxication assault and aggravated assault, police say.

Two days before Chen’s death, authorities had responded to another hit-and-run involving a pedestrian in Southwest Austin.

Sandra Neilsen and Weston Holtz

On August 17, Austin police responded about 8:35 a.m. to the intersection of Way Lane and South Bay Lane in Southwest Austin after receiving reports of an injured person.

Investigators say Sandra Neilsen, 70, was crossing the street when she was hit by a vehicle driven by 18-year-old Weston Holtz. He drove away after hitting Neilsen, who died at a hospital Aug. 18.

On Aug. 30, authorities found Holtz’s vehicle, but by the time a warrant was issued for his arrest the next day, he was already en-route to Austin. Holtz turned himself in at the Travis County Jail on Aug. 31.

Erick Hernandez

The next death reported last month was that of 33-year-old Erick Hernandez, who was hit while walking about 10:50 p.m. in the 700 block of East Slaughter Lane in Southeast Austin on Aug. 23.

Hernandez was taken to a hospital, where he died, police say. The driver of the vehicle that hit him stayed at the scene and cooperated with investigators.

Ian Lewis

About 1 a.m. Aug. 27, Austin police responded to the 3800 block of North Interstate 35. Authorities say Ian Lewis, 24, was hit by an 18-wheeler while walking on the upper deck of I-35 in the southbound lane. The driver of the semi did not stop to help Lewis, police said. Lewis died at the scene, according to officers.

Unknown

The last pedestrian death of the month was at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday on I-35 North near East Cesar Chavez Street.

Authorities say they received a call stating that two vehicles had hit a person walking. The pedestrian’s name had not been released as of Friday.

The drivers of both vehicles remained at the scene and are cooperating with the investigation, according to police.

8 killed on Austin roads in August; traffic death toll up to at least 71

Austin saw another decrease in traffic deaths in August compared with the same month in 2021, the city’s deadliest year for traffic deaths on record. Austin has logged 13 fewer deaths in 2022 than in the first eight months of last year.

Austin police recorded 120 deaths from traffic incidents last year — the most in the nearly four decades that they have kept such records. By the end of August 2021, the city had tallied 84 traffic-related deaths, with 13 of those in August alone. This year, as of Aug. 31, police had recorded 71 deaths.

Authorities on Friday confirmed that at least eight people died as a result of wrecks last month. Three were women and four were men, according to police. The gender of one person was not known. In addition to the five pedestrians, two people died after single-vehicle crashes and another was killed in a sixvehicle wreck.

Authorities responded at 5 a.m. Aug. 22 to the 8600 block of Texas 71 after receiving reports of the six-vehicle wreck.

Investigators believe a box truck driver was traveling east when he struck five vehicles stopped at a red light. The driver of one of those stopped vehicles, 52-year-old Shala Morgan, died at the crash site.

All other drivers remained at the scene and are cooperating with the investigation, police said.

About 8 p.m. Aug. 4, officers responded to the 11700 block of North MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1). Investigators say Melinda Gonzalez, 33, was driving south on the MoPac service road when she veered right and hit a metal guardrail. She died at the crash site, according to investigators.

About 10:20 p.m. Aug. 28, officers were called out to a single-vehicle crash at North Lamar Boulevard and West Yager Lane in North Austin. Authorities say a male driver, whose name was not immediately released, was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

Anyone with more information on these cases can call the Highway Investigation Tip Line at 512-974-8111 or use the Crime Stoppers tip line at 512-472-8477 or the Crime Stoppers app. You may remain anonymous. You can also submit tips by downloading the Police Department’s mobile app, Austin PD.

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